One of the most common complaints from conservative voters is that Republicans don’t “fight.” They believe, and correctly so, that their representatives aren’t engaging in enough meaningful battles, both culturally and politically. Many Trump voters supported him in 2016 because he represented that willingness to “fight.” And he certainly did that. He pushed back strongly on multiple battlefronts. Everybody was sick of traditional republican politicians that were too polite, rehearsed, and afraid of controversy, and who in turn didn’t win. Trump represented a wrecking ball to the establishment, to the “swamp”, to the activist left that had seized the commanding heights of power in so many of our cultural, educational, corporate, and news media entities. Sometimes the wrecking ball hit its target and it was glorious, sometimes it hit a baby.
But there’s another element to “fighting.” We often forget to define what it means to “fight.” We forget that fighting is supposed to mean winning. —They aren’t the same thing… And in a democratic republic, where elections are won by votes, fighting needs to translate into persuading people to vote for you or your policy proposals. So if persuasion is key, it should be the key to fighting. But instead, as it seems to me, we have many futile or even counter-productive perceptions of what it means to actually fight, and the incentives of those who seem to be screaming “FIGHT” the loudest seem disingenuous. We keep rewarding politicians, pundits, and influencers who engage in what amounts to essentially performance art without any real substance. These people launch fiery rhetoric about “Fighting” to an echo chamber of people who already agree with them. When you’re doing that, you’re not actually persuading anyone. We act like fighting is “owning the libs” with a snarky tweet, or pulling out the most enthusiastic southern gospel-speak at a raucous political rally, like Ted Cruz’s cringy CPAC speech, to an audience who’s already bought in and which hosts essentially zero independents or convertible democrats.
Sure, that has its place, and obviously you want to boost enthusiasm from your base just before an election. It’s important to get out and speak to your base and give them the narratives and information they need to make up their minds. But otherwise, how reliably do “revved-up” mobs make good choices or persuade anyone? How effectively did Jan. 6th or the Black Live Matter incorporated riots translate into a political “win?” It didn’t! It was totally stupidly wrong, counter-productive, and painful for everyone, especially those who may have initially held a shred of sympathy for some of the concerns of some of those people. Jan. 6th is going to continue to be used as a club to beat regular people into silence, disarm them, alienate them, and shut down any organizational efforts of anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton. And here’s the thing: Jan. 6th was never going to overturn an election anyways. But this perfectly encapsulates what can go wrong when we put too much emphasis on rallying the base via political one-upsman performances instead of focusing on the real issues, like local politics and electoral reforms at the state level.
Echo Chambers Vs. Game Changers
We have a tendency of focusing our efforts far away from where we can more effectively make a difference. Effective fighting means packaging our ideas and selling them to broad swathes of people who don’t agree with us and are likely predisposed to dislike us, in a way that they might be receptive to it and we might actually persuade someone instead of talking in circles to ourselves, and then cranking up the temperature out of some misguided attempt to garnish some attention and score cheap and meaningless political points. This may even derive from a weak-mindedness that is afraid of encountering an argument that could shatter your world view.
We make a mistake by calling these things “fighting” The real fight is when we actually talk to persuadable voters who aren’t already in our camp. We need to focus on an expanding audience, which means putting out messaging and optics that will appeal to people who don’t agree with us. Messages that are moderate and inviting enough to entice people into a further interest in our ideas, and we must present our movement in a way that maintains a certain level of tolerance for disagreement and boasts some core morality. Remember, it doesn’t matter how correct you are, it doesn’t matter the merits of your tax plan or your immigration policy if you come across as a total jerk. People want to vote for people who they feel comfortable about. The best fighters are the ones who are exceptional at explaining complex and fully-formed ideas to people in an easy-to-understand way and in a way that makes people comfortable enough with you as a person. As human beings, we all have stereotypes and prejudices, big or small, that shape the way in which we filter in new information. By speaking in a genuine and honest way and having a trustworthy demeanor we can help mitigatethose negative stereotypes about us. Those mental filters that block new information can be mitigated and make our policy pitch far more pallettable to a broader audience.
Empty Vs. Effective Rhetoric
This is why politics usually comes down to rhetoric. And rhetoric is just the art of making your argument as persuasive as you possibly can. If you can’t make your arguments palatable to people then what do they matter? Your ethos is important. And having an ethos, a credible character, is what will make people on the other side listen up. Screaming invective and cursing the other side as infantile and stupid will have them not only disqualifying you, but disqualifying all the people who follow you. This is what we saw happen with Trump. All dialogue was untended by the blinding hatred massive numbers of people had for the president and that carried over into how they thought about his supporters.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to throw out red meat rhetoric to people who already agree, and take shots at moderates on our own side as being RINO’s who don’t fight enough. As to imply that somehow that you yourself are the true fighter. Many conservatives do this. You’ll notice I never use the term RINO. Because it’s stupid, it’s weak. And it’s a losing strategy, are we to just embody the cancel culture we rail against until there’s none of us left and the Democrats run everything? We are supposed to be utilizing the left counterculture to grow our own base. As they cast everyone out up their little game woke Olympics, we should be holding the door open and inviting people in to join the party. Left-wing cancel culture should be something we use to our advantage not simply emulate. If we begin replicating the same pathologies we complain about on the left within our own ranks, then we are no different then the book left in all but one way, they are winning. Fighting doesn’t mean raising our voices to eachother in our little conservative safe-spaces.
It seems to me a lot of the people in conservative political or media actually have no genuine interest in helping or implementing legitimate solutions. Not all. But some clearly don’t have an interest in that. .. And here’s why. Their dedication to the cause is based on money. They sell ads on their page or show, and to maintain cashflow they need a loyal, super active following. It doesn’t matter if the audience expands necessarily. Just that it’s predictable, and they can utilize that predictability to profit off of “rage-bait.” Crisis peddling, and selling people a sense of victimhood. By fostering hate and distrust. They are just feeding the monster. And the monster is especially hungry when it’s angry, and it’s especially angry when it’s losing. So in a weird way, a lot of the political media benefits most when the movement to which they claim to belong is losing. It benefits from a revved-up mob that’s easy to manipulate and rigidly in a desperate and outraged condition. Almost by design incentives they have no motivation to persuade anyone, in fact they profit off of inflaming the unpersuadable.
The Media Work for Ratings, not You
The media are not in the business of winning elections, even though they might seem like it. They’re in the business of ratings. People are more likely to write a glaring review than a glowing one if they’re not prompted. That’s because people respond more easily to negativity than positivity. This is actually representative of a psychological phenomenon that actually makes perfect sense when you think about it. Why are human beings so more susceptible to negative emotion? Put simply because you can only be so happy but you can be very much dead and same for everyone you care about. It’s why we have ‘loss aversion’ and will hang on to things even when they’re harming us or when we have a much better opportunity at hand. The media pedals what sells. And they’ve seen through years of investigating politics that inflaming one side against another sells. It gives you a team. It delineates the world into good guys and bad guys and cleans up the insecurity that’s endemic to policy. And it sells.
This is the pernicious illusion we need to constantly be looking out for, especially from your own side. Becuase many influencers are truly in it for the right reasons, maybe they are just misguided a bit. But there are those who, whether they know it or not, truly want to be on the losing side. It’s actually better for their business. Once you see this you begin to understand why our media that in-part drives our culture feels so toxic. The hyper-partisan media and their revved up mob audiences seem to only get bigger as everything they touch gets worse. Outrage drives traffic and these entities can cash in.
Think about this and pay attention to when you see it going on around you. Remember that. Especially if the first inclination is to constantly call out the farthest fringest of a movement and trying to apply that to the entirety of their opposition instead of confronting the strongest intellectual arguments of their opposition and contend with them in good will. Or when they are constantly calling out their own side for not being “Pure” enough, or not “fighting” aggresively enough, as this indicates that they are more focused on driving outrage and trying to move up their own conservative hierarchy. As conservatives we have a problem where we are always trying to root out traitors. I call them RINO hunters. And what’s the purpose? We actually need people who bridge the gap between us and those who we need to win over, if we let ourselves, or worse yet, intentionally keep pushing that divide and idealogical conformity we will inevitably tear apart the social fabric of this country and all of the things that we “conservatives” talk about conserving will be lost. Until there are none of us left and the democrats run everything.
Moderates get a lot of hate for being wishy-washy. But being strong doesn’t necessarily mean toeing the party line. It takes more strength and fortitude to tell the people you could have eating out of your hand with your ‘fight’ mentality that they might be wrong. Even that, on some issues, the opponents may be right. But that’s the only thing that’s going to get people to work together on things. Why do you think the senate and house are gridlocked every time congress is split down the middle with no clear majority? That’s the result of a lack of independent thinking and an unhealthy devotion to the ‘fight for your base no matter what’ mentality. Concession is weak when forced on you from someone with a position of strength. It’s not weak when you make it yourself after careful consideration.
Pots Calling Kettles Black
The right-wing cancel culture, the intolerance and fratricide is a self-destructive movement that we should be questioning. The entire point in free-speech, the entire point in democracy is to allow us to disagree and hopefully elect representatives that are interested in representing the broadest possible swathe of their constituency, not just the slim subsection of their supporters that helped elect them, but everyone. And that message is actually effective, that’s why Joe Biden uses it so much, irregardless of the fact that he has yet to follow through with anything bi-partisan or at any point to contradict his party and supporters. That is the true test of a representative’s character: are they willing to make concessions unpopular with their base to cater to the broader public or the greater good, knowing they may be punished for it?
What does all this result in? Well it results in the manifestation of counter-productive events like Jan. 6th. I did a long radio show on how awful this was. The whole point was that it was pointless, it was an exercise in futility and frustration. It was politicians getting carried away with fiery rhetoric and performing for you. It was a performance with no substance. Some people questioned why I wasn’t hopping on board to fight. And it’s because I’ve been in fights, and that wasn’t a real fight. When I fight, I fight to win; that wasn’t fighting. It was a performance. The politicians involved in the effort to block the election knew better and they still did it. They still said that they were fighting. So, apparently the best way to fight, according to them, was to engage in unwinnable battles that persuade nobody and leave their supporters even more desperate and down-trodden than before. That’s what’s really frustrating in all this. It’s just an exercise in frustration. It’s almost as if the people who do this, the politicians, the influencers, they deliberately choose unwinnable battles. So they’ll never have to deliver on the promises they were empty from the get-go, perhaps.
Another example was when the left was going crazy tearing down statues and the conservative base was rightfully angry about it. And instead of being angry at the left, many smart people began to turn on republicans. They said that if republicans were real fighters they would do something about this. Even though no republican governors were allowing this to happen in their cities. So what else were they supposed to do? What did we want or expect from them? Is that really what we would want? We want our Republican representatives to dawn some riot gear and go battle antifa toe to toe beneath a george washington statue in a democrat-run city? Would that somehow fix things? Sure it’d be entertaining, but it wouldn’t be making our country a better place.
I’d just like to encourage us to think more carefully about what actions we want to see implimented and is that really a winning strategy… or if we’re just defining “fighting” as engaging in pointless, unwinnable battles that win over nobody, wastes our time, dissapoints us, and and makes our social divides worse. Becuase real fighting is hard, real fighting involves intellectual debates with a certain level of goodwill given to people who genuinely disagree with us, and sometimes for fair reasons.
We actually need people who think differently, who can identify different problems and solve them in different ways. Real fighting means making the movement broader, not just angrier. It requires stratigic thinking. I takes engaging the real difficult arguments. It requires well-concieved, airtight logic. It takes presenting our case with a moderate audience in mind across a variety of platforms. It means actually understanding conservative principles and actually understanding why they make better policy solutions. It means taking the time to understand where and how government actually works and what problems it can actually solve. This so that we’re not convincing people to storm the capital to try to solve a problem that could only actually be solved by engaging in local politics and reform laws at the state level. And we need to be honest about that.
There is a way to really fight. The conservatives are generally correct that for too long representatives really didn’t fight hard enough. But know we need to learn how to fight effectively. Fighting effectively is just as important as the will to fight itself. We need to be demanding that our or politicians bring people to our side and engage in substantive debate in congress and in the culture. The winning message we have as conservatives, if we actually try to sell it, is level-headed conservatives. And we do it with intellectual honestly and confidence and pride. We don’t need to hide our policies from moderates. This is a mistake. Just be honest and make room for accommodations. Lead with what we really think, and we’ll actually be rewarded for it if we package it in a moderate, confident and inviting way. Let’s not let our media engage in the circular firing squad and act in ways that drive people out. We can actually work proactively, if we understand how government happens and what’s reasonable for members of congress to do vs what’s reasonable for governors to do vs mayors, and what isn’t a legitimate role for government. We can actually learn how to fight these battles effectively.
Written by: Liberty Revolt